Like most of the other bloggers on this site I’ve been having trouble meeting my writing goals lately (and non-writing goals for that matter). In fact it’s been hard to even get started lately. I won’t bore you with the specifics of the excuses. Like most excuses they feel valid at the time but criminally lame after the fact. I’ve had success in the past with written schedules but the latest attempt was less than successful. All seemed lost.
Last week though Tim wrote a post right here on Writing is Cake about the Pomodoro Technique. He heard about it at a presentation at Iginite Phoenix, an event you should attend if you’re nearby, failing that check out their site and youtube channel. At any rate something about it peaked my curiosity enough to check out the Ignite preso and the Pomodoro site. I’ve been using it for a few days now and I can’t say enough good things about it. Let me tell ya people, this is a great time management protocol. It sounds a little gimmicky at first and I suppose it is with jargony terms and phrases. But when you get good results who cares?
The planning/time management phase is simple enough. You make a sort of master ‘to do’ list called an Activity Inventory. From that list you pick items that go on a ‘To Do Today’ list and estimate how many pomodoros the task will take. Pomodoro being an indivisible unit of 25 minutes with a 3-5 minute break at the end. Simple right? But it lets you prioritize tasks in any number of ways.
Even more important for me is it lets you break down any task into smaller goals. Not only does this lessen the sense of being overwhelmed by tasks, it means you always have a sense of making progress. It keeps you you positive, in the moment, and focused. And speaking of focus…my problem isn’t so much procrastination. I can usually get started alright but staying on task is brutal. Distraction is my demon and he is legion! Dealing with distractions is built into the system. Not by ignoring them but by acknowledging them. If you feel a distraction brewing you actually write it down and make a decision whether to address it or move on with the task. Of course most of them are easily put off and you’ll quickly be amazed how much work you get done in 25 minutes when that 25 minutes is only work.
So give it a try. Read Tim’s post http://www.writingiscake.com/2010/04/06/habitually-focused-the-pomodoro-technique/, check out the Ignite videohttp://www.youtube.com/user/IgnitePhoenix#p/u/16/7ckRBw5VfaA, check out the Pomodoro sitehttp://www.pomodorotechnique.com/. If you’re not sure if it’ll work start small. Try a two or three pomodoro task and see how it feels. I’m hooked and I’m pretty sure you will be, too. Thanks go to Tim, Greg Head, and Jeff and the Ignite Cadre.